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The ornamentation of the Palace of Westminster illustrates the longstanding connection between Parliament and heraldry. In the past most parliamentarians owned personal coats of arms and these were widely used, appearing on official gifts, government documents or as part of campaigning. During the twentieth century its public prominence declined, yet there was also an increasing use of heraldry to represent parliamentary careers. The result was a rich array of arms featuring portcullises, maces and other symbols of parliamentary tradition, in Britain and other countries with Westminster-style legislatures. This paper will explore ways in which heraldry was used in public life, and how attitudes towards it evolved. It will then highlight a selection of arms commemorating parliamentary service and office-holding, and discuss their symbolism.

Dr Duncan Sutherland is an independent historian who wrote his dissertation at Cambridge on women's admission to the House of Lords and recently contributed a chapter on women in the Lords since 1958 to the book Reform and Its Complexities in Modern Britain. He was a research fellow at Queen's University Belfast's Centre for the Advancement of Women in Politics, has contributed over thirty articles on women politicians for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and has written about Singaporean history, Jamaican history, and heraldry. 

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but advance booking is required.